CHARLESTON -- Murray Rickliffe Choate, age 90 of Charleston, passed away on Friday, June 14, 2019 while at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 2206 Fourth Street in Charleston. The Funeral Service, honoring and celebrating his life will begin at 6:00 p.m., immediately following visitation with Reverend Janice Kahl officiating and with Masonic Services conducted by members and guests of Charleston Masonic Lodge #35 A.F. & A.M. Burial with military honors will be at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at the Anna City Cemetery in Anna, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to the Air Force Association and may be left at the visitation/service or mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Dr., Charleston, IL 61920.
Murray was born July 8, 1928 in Anna, Illinois, the only child of Murray M. and Mary (Aden) Choate. He married the love of his life, Frances C. Waller on October 4, 1952 and she preceded him in death exactly sixty-six years later on October 4, 2018.
Murray is survived by a son, Rick Choate and wife Virginia and grandchildren, Aden, Isaac, Simon and Hannah Choate, all of Charleston, along with his brothers and sisters-in-law, Lois and Richard Waller and Joyce and Phillip Waller, and several nieces and nephews and their families.
Murray was an Anna High School graduate and furthered his education at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. His college studies were interrupted when he entered the military, serving his country with the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Murray was proud to serve as a Command Fighter Pilot and remained in the USAF Reserves, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. As a Command Fighter Pilot, Murray logged more than 2000 hours in the air. He ultimately returned to SIU and completed his studies earning both his Bachelor and Masters Degrees, and was a founding member of the Beta-Chi Chapter, Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. His first teaching position was at Lick Creek, Illinois, where he also coached girls' basketball, and later taught sixth grade in Anna, Illinois. From 1960-1962 he was Principal of Memorial Elementary School in Taylorville, Illinois, and in 1962, he joined the Admissions Office at Eastern Illinois University, where he served for more than 25 years, retiring as Director of Admissions. Murray was a devoted member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Charleston and was extremely devoted to the citizens of Charleston. He served the community as chair of the city's planning and zoning commission, and then as its mayor from 1995 to 1999. Murray and his wife Frances were members, and Murray served as President of the Coles County Historical Society. He was a member of the Charleston Elks B.P.O.E. #623, Charleston Masonic Lodge #35 A.F. & A.M., the Order of the Eastern Star, the Charleston Country Club and member and past president of the Charleston Kiwanis Club. He was a member of the Republican Party and participated at the State and National levels. Murray remained extremely proud of his military service and was a member of the Reserve Officers Association, Retired Officers Association, was a Life Member of the Air Force Association and National President of the P51 Mustang Association.
Murray will always be remembered for his love for God, country, community and family.